Administration of Justice Bills of Interest
August 9, 2018
AB 372 (Stone, M.): This bill, as amended, would create a pilot program that would allow the counties of Napa, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Yolo to offer an alternative to the batterer intervention program. AB 372 would allow the pilot counties to take an alternative and innovative approach to the current, statutorily required 52 week batterer intervention program and is the first step in assessing whether there are treatment programs that do not necessarily comply with current statutory requirements, that more effectively address the criminogenic needs of batterers and result in reducing recidivism.
SB 931 (Hertzberg): This bill would amend the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act to specify that custody status cannot be used as the sole reason to postpone the psychiatric conservatorship evaluation process. Under existing law and practice, individuals suffering from severe mental illness often find themselves confined in the county jail for substantial periods of time, and are not evaluated for conservatorship status and appropriate treatment options until the conclusion of their criminal case. Delaying conservatorship evaluations often has the effect of keeping these persons in custody longer than necessary. SB 931 seeks to address this issue by prohibiting a conservatorship investigator from failing to schedule an investigation based solely upon the custody status of the individual.
SB 142 (Beall): This bill would incentivize counties to invest more in effective local mental health services by sharing state savings when a county reduces the number of people with mental illness sent to state prison. Specifically, SB 142 would establish the State Community Mental Health Performance Incentives Fund that, upon an appropriation by the Legislature, would be available for transfer to counties to be deposited in a county-based fund account. Incentive payments would be made available to the County Board of Supervisors for utilization by county and other local community mental health programs to provide adult offenders with treatment services that address mental health needs and risk factors for incarceration.
SB 1303 (Pan): This bill mandates that non-charter counties with a population of 500,000 or greater abolish the office of the coroner or the sheriff’s coroner’s office and replace it with the office of the medical examiner—which the county boards of supervisors already have the statutory power to do. This bill would have a significant fiscal impact on at least five counties—including Riverside, Contra Costa, Kern, Stanislaus and Sonoma. On April 24, 2018, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted to create an independent Office of the Medical Examiner. The initial estimated cost to create this new office is an additional $1.3 million in ongoing costs to their current budget. An expenditure of this size could prove to be detrimental to a county’s budget and the county board of supervisors is in the best position to determine if their county has the fiscal ability to absorb such an expense.
SB 1186 (Hill): This bill would require local law enforcement agencies to have a policy, approved by the local governing body in a public meeting, in place before using surveillance technology. This legislation requires that the governing board consider both surveillance policies and the underlying technology at a public meeting. Specifically, the legislation states: . . . the governing body, at a regularly scheduled hearing pursuant to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 54950) of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5 of the Government Code), shall consider the policy for adoption by resolution or ordinance on the regular, non-consent calendar and shall provide an opportunity for public comment before adopting the resolution or ordinance. CSAC, LCC and CAJPA are concerned about this blanket application of the Brown Act to governing body deliberations.
AB 2720 (Waldron): This bill would authorize county probation departments to use the Juvenile Reentry Grant Special Account for rehabilitative services for persons who have been discharged from a juvenile court’s jurisdiction for up to two years after dismissal. The Juvenile Reentry Grant Special Account was established to provide resources for county probation departments who assumed new populations and workload to supervise and assist with programming for youth returning from the State Division of Juvenile Justice facilities. This measure is unclear as to how this would be operationalized since it would allow expenditure of funds for a population that is no longer under the jurisdiction of the court or county. CSAC is opposed to this measure and very concerned about how the funds would be allocated, overseen, and managed to ensure the funding is meeting its intended use.